Bread Flour Trouble/Frustration

I am getting so frustrated and discouraged.

Previously I was using Lehi Roller Mills bread flour and was getting nice beautiful oven spring, my boules were holding their shape. I was having a lot of success.

Due to covid circumstances I had to switch to Gold Medal Bread Flour when I ran out and every loaf with this bread flour is a squattier, spread-out, flat loaf. No oven spring. The handling of the dough during all the preparation feels totally different as well. It is much more wet and sticky/floppy. It’s very very difficult to shape.

I have not changed anything about my technique nor timing or tools. The only variable that has changed is the bread flour.

Can anyone please help me troubleshoot? Just get new bread flour? Add more flour? I’m so sick of being so disappointed when I was previously baking what, to me, we’re beautiful loaves.

Photo of how nice and puffy and round my previous loaves were. I miss baking pretty bread.

That’s lovely! Definitely try going by feel of the dough rather than your numbers from a different flour.

I’m having a similar experience. I spent all of March and April pairing AP flour with different whole grain flours, and now I’m using bread flour (also with whole grain flours), and it sucks up a little more water and feels bouncy in my hands.

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My selections locally are pretty slim now too, but I’ve gotten KA Bread and Whole Wheat and curretly have Gold Medal Bread flour. The Gold Medal has a lower protein count than the KA so it seems to need a little less liquid. The problem is that flour is so scarce it’s hard to experiment.

These were made with the Gold Medal.

I’m at about 7,800 feet altitude but I’ve been here so long I don’t pay attention to that.

Hang in there and keep shopping on line. I usually check places every day.

Dave

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Thanks for the tip. I’ll try reducing the water and see how it goes.

I’m technically at high altitude as well. I’ve never really taken it into consideration before but perhaps I should with this flour.

@juliehurd and @Dave_Rocknich I am in NW MT and not particularly high (3300) AND I had a good stock of my normal WheatMontana bread flour, but I’ve noticed that WheatMontana flours as well as the Bob’s Red Mill flours are back on the shelves here … nothing for some weeks so here I guess things are catching up a bit in my neck of the woods!

BUT, I’m commenting to say that if you can find Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread flour or any of the Bob’s bread flours, I think those will perform better than Gold Medal. I’ve used the Artisan and like it a lot.

I had never heard of Wheat Montana flour before. I did a search and interestingly enough, I can order it from Walmart of all places.

Sadly they only have the AP flour but I’ll keep my eye on the website and when I can I’ll order some Prairie Gold and Bronze Chief.

I love Bob’s Red Mill but the local stores usually just carry small packs of specialty flours like Garbanzo and Almond flours. Their website is currently pretty baren. I don’t know what protein count the Artisan Bread Flour is. Last time I looked Gold Medal Bread Flour was 12% and I seem to recall KA Bread Flour was 12,7% or 12.9%. I’m sure these numbers can change.

Dave

That’s too bad about the Bob’s Red Mill availability. Our stores (Kalispell area) have BRM in 2 places and the baking aisle location typically has 5 pound bags of the bread flours, whole wheat, pastry flours and even a Rye (vs the small bags)

WheatMontana AP is actually high protein. Per the label below, I calculate it at 13.15 % (5 g/ 38 g). I use it for all bread flour and if I need something lighter I add a bit of potato flour and Tipo 00. I am as surprised as you that Walmart carries WheatMontana :slight_smile: WM is non-GMO certified. They are not organic certified but their website explains farming practices. The AP and Bronze Chief are hard red spring wheat. I have no issues subbing gram for gram.

Thanks for the information. I found the link to Walmart and think I’ll give it a try.
Hope I don’t cause a run on it.

I did find a spec sheet on their AP flour and it looks pretty good. If I can post this link, scroll down to the bottom. The print is pretty fine but I think they list the AP flour as 12.25% under Chemical Composition vs 13.5 g on the Nutrition side. Either way it’s good enough for me.

Page where link to pdf is shown.
https://www.wheatmontana.com/retail/flourpancake-mixes/natural-white/natural-white-flour-1

Thanks again,

Dave

I’ve read that Whole Foods 365 brand AP flour is actually from Central Milling, so would be high quality. I’m not sure on the protein content however, but have used it successfully for years.

PSA: We have High Protein bread flour in stock in our online store (10 lb and 50 lb bags):

I’m in Dripping Springs TX. Shop HEB and Whole Foods, both have good quality organic and regular flours. Both run short right now, gratefully we have a mill here, Barton Springs Mill which specializes in heritage grains grown in Texas. The farmers they work with practice organic farming but are not certification, neither is the mill. However their flours and other grains are very good, alibi pricey. https://bartonspringsmill.com/

I’m having exactly the same problem. I should say that I’m a baking novice, but my first two loaves turned out great. I followed the no-knead recipe for Eric’s whole wheat/white flour recipe, and I used all-purpose flour and regular whole wheat flour. Then I thought I should do things properly, and I bought bread flour and Red Fife whole wheat flour. Well, these flours do not soak up water the way the other two types did. So I learned about bakers’ percentages and reduced my hydration percentage from 85% to 75%. It made no difference. I should add that my starter is very healthy and bubbly. Yesterday’s loaf was tasty and had good crumb structure but was very flat. Help! What do I do? Thanks . Emmy

You have to be careful when trying to calculate protein percentages from packaging information. Rounding errors as a result of small sample sizes can be significant. For example, 5g of protein could actually be 4.51g or 5.49g. That can result in the percentage being almost 10% more or less than what you calculate.

Could be many different things and if you have a chance to post a picture of the crumb of your loaf, we might be able to take better guesses, but here’s a blind guess: a lot of new bread bakers end up proofing their dough for too long and by the time it is in the oven baking, when it should be poofing up in a glorious final burst of “oven spring” the yeast has already run out of food in the dough so it stays flat instead. You could try reducing the length of time that you are proofing the dough for.

Instead of following a recipe in terms of the length of time you proof the dough, you could try keeping an eye on it and ending the first proofing period when the dough has just doubled in volume.

Thanks Paul. I made my most recent loaf made with baking flour and Red Fife whole-wheat flour at 75% hydration. I was concerned that I might be over-roofing, so after three hours at room temperature (very hot), I put it in the fridge overnight and then proofed it on the counter the next morning for another 3 hours.

The coil fold was hard to do because the dough was so wet, but I flopped it in a proofing banneton and it rose nicely.

However, I basically had to poor it into my preheated Le Creuset pot and lot a lot of dough in the process.
So i’m frustrated.

If you can find Vital Wheat Gluten, try adding 1 tsp per cup of Gold Medal flour. (Even though KA is nowhere to be found in my rural area, the Bob’s Red Mill shelf was well stocked in our better supermarket.)

Hi, King Arthur Bread Flour is back in stock on their website. I just purchased 2-5lb bags $9.90, Sales Tax $0.00, Standard shipping $6.00, Total $15.90
It’s a little more expensive when you add in the shipping but I can live with it since it’s nowhere to be found in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area👍

I also had to use Gold Medal in place of KA and the color was off too. Now all I can get is KA all purpose flour :mask:

I would try cutting your water down a bit to see if that works. That happened to me also but I was in touch with Elaine Boddy of foodbod.com and she suggested that my Canadian flour may be harder or something and to try cutting back on the water. It worked like a charm.
Good luck!